"Toby Dog"

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Thy Servant a Dog and Other Dog Stories, as published in 1938.



[February 18th 2008]

[Page 75 lines 4 -] Smallest went to Flat-in-Town … etc. the child Digby is taken to London for an operation, probably on his tonsils,

[Page 75 line 14] garage-place a mews at the rear of the building with garages and accommodation for chauffeurs etc.

[Page 75 lines 15-20] whistle-squeaky noises …Punch and Judy the classic fairground puppet-show of the English-speaking world, dating back to 1660 or thereabouts, and to the Italian commedia dell'arte.

The figure of Punch derives from the stock character of Pulcinella, which was Anglicized to Punchinello. He is a manifestation of the Lord of Misrule and Trickster figures of deep-rooted mythologies. The show is a dreadful exhibition of wife-beating and generally unpleasant behaviour which is still adored by children today.

See “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” where Kipling uses these names for tne children in the story and "The Man who would be King", page 242, line 33 , both in Wee Willie Winkie.

[Page 75 line 16] Frill-box a light timber frame covered with coloured canvas, having a stage where the puppets appear.

[Page 76 line 1] whistle-squeaked the operator (Dirty Man) has a reed in his mouth with which he makes the characteristic noises associated with the performance.

[Page 76 line 2] Frill Dog Punch’s dog. Toby, used to appear in the performance but has not been seen so often in recent years.

[Page 76 lines 5-12] Dollies came up…. etc the characters in the drama include, Punch’s wife (Judy), the baby, the Policeman, Toby the Dog, the Hangman and a crocodile. In Mary Edwards's account: Punch is a glove puppet, usually made of carved wood and cloth. He talks with a squeaky voice and is married to Judy.

[Page 76 line 7] Shiny-Tree a Christmas-tree

[Page 76 line 13] showed his inside-hat to Smalls he passed round the audience with his hat seeking contributions but nobody paid anything.

[Page 76 line 15] Garn ! an old 'Cockney' expression of contempt and disbelief, a shortened form of the 'Go and …' series of remarks, 'Go and boil your head being a fairly polite example. A Cockney is, strictly speaking, a Londoner born within the sound of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow in the City of London. There is a characteristic Cockney accent which is reflected in the speech of Dirty Man and his dog. Sadly, few Londoners under sixty would call themselves Cockneys nowadays (2008).

[Page 76 line 16] movies moving pictures – the cinema.

drammer drama

[Page 76 line 17] ares hares.

[Page 76 line 20] up-with-the-washing the chauffer would take the laundry to the country-house where the staff would deal with it.

[Page 78 line 6] crowned-edds Kings and Queens - the crowned heads of Europe.

[Page 80 line 4] two-bang-gun a two-barrelled gun used for shooting birds, rabbits and other game.

[Page 81 line 9] shiny-feet-things the boot and shoe cleaning-gear. See “Thy Servant a Dog” page 23 line 24, earlier in this volume.

[Page 81 line 23] Lummy ! a shortened form of 'Lord love me' – a Cockney expression of surprise.

[Page 82 lines 1-4] grub…. You know fat lots Boots and Slippers have their grub (food) put in front of them and do not know that most people (and some dogs) have to work for a living.

scrappin’ scrapping - in this context slang for fighting

[Page 82 line 14] perfession profession.

[Page 82 line 16] betz bets

[Page 82 line 21] skin-the-village-alive they would bet on Toby who would obviously win the rat-killing competition.

[Page 83 line 6] Marble Arch a monumental arch at the very busy junction of four main roads in the West End of London, and a famous London landmark. Readers may recall Kipling's poem "A Truthful Song":

A year ago, come the middle of March,
We was building flats near the Marble Arch...


[Page 83 line 8] pennies-in-my-cup some unfortunates used to beg in the streets, attended by a dog; passers-by would drop coins in the tin mug usually on the ground in front of them.

[Page 83 line 19] made-much-of see Note to "The Great Play Hunt" at page 69 line 21.

peel-the-breeches-off-the-village much the same as 'skin-the-villlage-alive' see page 82 line 21 above

[Page 83 line 26] Regan see Note to “Thy Servant a Dog" at page 22 line 16.

[Page 84 lines 12-19] first ride after Flat-in-Town etc the pony was a little frisky after too much food and not enough exercise but the child’s legs have grown stronger and he is able to get a grip of his mount, and show off

[Page 84 line 17] Master Digby it was the custom for servants to address the sons of their employers in this manner. Daughters would have Miss in front of their Christian names.

[Page 84 line 18] Seats-and-hands is Heaven’s gifts a good seat in the saddle and gentle yet firm hands on the bridle can be taught but only up to a point – the rider does the rest by instinct.

[Page 84 line 20] Champion Reserve in a Show, the runner-up who comes second.

[Page 86 line 1] our Lame Fox run see "The Great Play Hunt".

[Page 86 line 9] looks-of-a-Nangel and the guts-of-a-mongrel 'angel' would imply a good-looking if useless hound; 'mongrel' is an unfortunate choice of words by Moore to criticise Upstart, since mongrels (cross-bred dogs or hounds) are often stout-hearted, affectionate and clever, as, for instance, Toby himself. But hunting people would put a high value on pure breeding in their hounds.

[Page 86 line 10] Rosemary see Note to “Thy Servant a Dog" page 22 line 16.

[Page 86 line 12] ran-near-as-mute did not give tongue very much when following scent

[Page 86 line 18] soft-tail hound information will be appreciated.

[Page 86 line 22] Peterborough The Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show Society was founded in 1878. It held over 100 shows to judge working foxhounds for their conformation and activity and had considerable influence over the selection of stallion hounds and dams (the bitches) to produce the working foxhounds for the future. Breeders assessed the virtues of hounds on show and indicated their quality.

[Page 86 line 25] Usurper his sire again unlikely – see line 10 above

[Page 87 line 1] Umbrage see Upstart above.

[Page 87 line 8] three couple six. Hounds are counted in pairs, so five hounds would be 'two-and-a-half couple'.

[Page 87 line 12] pushing-up-the-daisies dead and buried.

[Page 87 line 15] three couple four-days-a-week that means twenty-four hounds a week which indicates a large pack to allow for rest-days, illness etc.

[Page 87 line 25] break-up-and-eat hounds used to be encouraged to eat a little of the fox at a kill to give them a taste for their quarry, but are not now permitted to do so. see the headnote to "The Great Play Hunt".

[Page 88 line 7] ricked round ricks stacks of hay or corn, neatly piled up and thatched to keep the weather out were a feature of farm-yards until some time after the 1939 War and were usually infested with rats.

[Page 90 line 4] drag in this context a trail of scent laid by a rider hauling a sack of some smelly substance (line 6) which hounds under instruction can follow. It is also used if there are no foxes about.

[Page 90 line 25] a cert a certainty.

[Page 90 line 26] Bell-day and strong Shiny Plate Sunday and a full moon.

[Page 91 line 10] E in this context he – the dog has dropped the ‘H’ – one of the characteristics of the Cockney accent (See the note on page 76 line 15 above.)

[Page 91 line 13] sloped in this context departed, or 'did a bunk', usually without paying debts.

[Page 91 line 19] Middle Eats Sunday lunch – traditionally an important social occasion.

[Page 91 line 21] Ravager not being house-trained he would probably not be permitted to some indoors – but see page 96, lines 6-16.

[Page 91 line 27] Butler usually the senior servant in a large household.

[Page 92 line 8] carrot-basket slices of raw carrot to give to the horses – most likely prepared by a kitchen-maid rather than the butler.

[Page 93 line 7] flags in this context paving-stones.

[Page 93 line 10] Nursey-Thick-names pet names from his very early days in the nursery – see "Thy Servant a Dog" at page 18 line 2.

[Page 93 line 14] Belvoir tans pronounced Beaver – an old-established Hunt in Leicestershire , with a pack of Old English Foxhounds of a characteristic colour.

[Page 93 line 16] hand-before-mouth Her Ladyship yawned ostentatiously – rather a lapse from good manners - indicating that she had seen enough hounds for the moment.

[Page 93 line 21] Lummy a Cockney expression of surprise – Lord love me ! (see page 76 line 15 above.)

[Page 93 line 27] uphackled the hairs on his back stood up.

[Page 95 line 4] jackal a member of the dog family found in Asia and Africa; Tabaqui, the jackal, is depicted as a cowardly creature in “Mowgli’s Brothers” page 4, line 3 The Jungle Book.

[Page 96 line 4] colder than Cotswold the high ground in the Cotswold Hills in the West Country, where there was another notable Hunt, is likely to be generally colder than the valleys.

[Page 96 lines 6-8] Ravager … head-on-knee See lines 16-19 below and page 91, line 21; we still wonder if a hound – even such a paragon as Ravager – would be allowed indoors [Ed.]

[Page 97 line 5] rhubarb-pots large clay jars with lids placed over rhubarb-plants in the kitchen-garden.

[Page 97 line 7] Alsatians also known as German Shepherd Dogs (in German Deutscher Schäferhund) used today as guide-dogs for the blind, also by the police and military..

[Page 98 line 3] Fairy Ann! the Cockney pronunciation (see the note on page 76, line 15 above) of the French ça ne fait rien, 'it does not matter'; this became a British Army catchphrase in the 1914-18 War and spread into civilian life thereafter.

[Page 98 line 6] S’long 'so long' – goodbye

[Page 98 line 25 onwards] I am cold ….. Dr Gillian Sheehan writes:

He is suffering from heart disease and could have had pain in his throat and neck if he were having a heart attack, a myocardial infarction. He would feel cold if his circulation was not working properly and an insufficient blood supply to his brain would have made him think he was cold, as well. This is what might happen with humans and probably much the same would apply to dogs and other mammals. [G.S.]
[Page 99 line 2] warm leaves-on night with Shiny Plate summer, with a full moon.

[Page 99 line 9] plays the dickens a colloquialism for 'plays the devil' (from the famous English writer Charles Dickens (1812-1870) with whom Kipling was sometimes compared. See Charles Carrington p. 506

[Page 100 lines 2 – 4] ‘Member Bucket … Cow-pups...Bull See “Thy Servant a Dog” at pages 12, 14 and 30 earlier in this volume.


[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2008 All rights reserved